Behind the Counter: Get the inside info from sportsbook traders ahead of the 2021 NFL season

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Jared Smith


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Jared Smith, a versatile host and analyst with over 10 years of experience in sports media and two decades as a sports bettor, has joined the Pickswise team as a lead betting analyst. Smith will serve as a full-time content creator, producing informative and engaging content every day across multiple platforms.

With the 2021 NFL season almost upon us, Pickswise spoke to a number of sportsbook traders to find out more about which teams have been receiving the most action, who the public loves, and whether there have been any surprising trends during the offseason. Find out their answers below…

Which teams are your sportsbook’s biggest liability in Futures markets?

Darren Darby, BetMGM
The Buccaneers are without doubt our biggest liability to win the Super Bowl.

Jay Croucher, PointsBet
Cleveland. Bettors are talking themselves into Cleveland–as they have the past couple of years–given how stacked Cleveland looks on paper. We also have lots of liability on a longshot in Chicago, with bettors believing in the immediate upside of Justin Fields.

John Sheeran, FanDuel Sportsbook
The Titans, Bills, and Steelers for the Super Bowl. The Browns, Titans, and Steelers for the AFC and the Eagles, Washington, and Giants for the NFC.

Jeff Benson, Circa
Believe it or not the Houston Texans and then also the Las Vegas Raiders.

John Murray, Westgate Superbook
The Patriots are the biggest liability in the Super Bowl, and by a pretty wide margin. Someone has a ticket for $10,000 at 40-1 on them winning it all and there has been a huge accumulation of bets on them since we turned the betting on. It’s the Bucs in the NFC. We also lose to the Rams, Football Team, and Colts.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. parlay

CREDIT – Christopher Hanewinckel (USA Today)

What’s the most surprising trend of betting action you’ve seen this offseason?

BetMGM has taken plenty of action on the Lions. They’ve been the most-bet team to go over their win total, and also been a few bets with some big potential paydays. One was a $500 bet on the Lions to win the Super Bowl at 250/1. We also had a $1,000 bet at 100/1 for Detroit to win the NFC. However, it’s worth pointing out that all of these bets were placed in Michigan.

Probably the confidence in the Bears. It might be a bit wishful given Andy Dalton is starting, the offensive line is trouble, and the defense isn’t likely to be as dominant as it was a couple of years ago.

FanDuel Sportsbook
The Titans being the biggest liability for the Super Bowl and Josh Allen being the most popular choice for MVP.

Amon-Ra St. Brown to win Rookie of the Year.

Westgate Superbook
I know they just won the Super Bowl, but I have been surprised by how hard everyone is hammering the Bucs to win the NFC. We are all the way down to 2-1 on the Bucs and still writing money at that price. This team was an underdog twice in the conference playoffs last season.

Which team has been the most popular bet to win their division?

The Buccaneers. Bettors love Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champions.

The Titans. I guess the guiding thought from bettors here is that the AFC South is simply a mess, with Indy littered with injury question marks, Houston a debacle, and Jacksonville unproven. Bettors are trusting in Tennessee’s elite offense and a defense that should improve–if only because it can’t be worse than it was last year.

FanDuel Sportsbook
By stake, the Rams, Vikings, Giants, Bucs, Pats, Titans, Broncos, and Browns.
By liability, the Cardinals, Lions, Giants, Panthers, Jets, Titans, Broncos, and Bengals.

Minnesota Vikings and, given our demographic and market, the Las Vegas Raiders.

Westgate Superbook
We have more tickets on the Football Team to win its division than any other team to win any other division. I would not have predicted that!

CREDIT – Paul Rutherford (USA Today)

Any longshots that bettors seem to be undervaluing?

It is football, so all teams are receiving action.

Perhaps the Jags. There’s a decent chance that Trevor Lawrence is the best quarterback in his division this year. The Titans are the power in the AFC South but they are very top-heavy and injuries to Tannehill, Henry, Brown, or Jones would seriously hurt them. The division could be wide open and Lawrence could walk right through it.

FanDuel Sportsbook
Not quite longshots, but teams with potentially higher ceilings, such as the Saints and Chargers, can represent value in the market.

Carolina Panthers.

Westgate Superbook
I like the Chargers. They have so much talent on both sides of the ball and a QB on a rookie deal. That’s the recipe for success nowadays. The Chiefs won it all like that. Seattle went to back-to-back Super Bowls while they were in that window. It closes quickly. The Chargers just have to stay healthy.

Any futures markets that have received an increasing amount of attention?

Odds to win the Super Bowl are the most bet futures market, but aside from that, the win totals and division bets have also received plenty of action.

Offensive Rookie of the Year. With five quarterbacks legitimately in the mix, it’s drawn a lot of attention. Strangely, the two most-bet QBs are the two perhaps the least likely to start Week 1–Lance and Fields.

FanDuel Sportsbook
The Buccaneers to go 17-0 has been very popular. Also the equivalent market for the Chiefs.

Coach of the Year.

Westgate Superbook
MVP gets more popular every year and we haven’t done really well on it in the past. Very popular betting option.

In terms of the Player Futures, which players are the biggest liabilities right now?

Two stick out and both involve rookie quarterbacks. Trey Lance to win NFL MVP and Justin Fields to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Lance and Fields OROY, Stafford–by a distance–for MVP, and then Young and Garrett for Defensive Player of the Year.

FanDuel Sportsbook
Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Tom Brady for MVP, Najee Harris for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Micah Parsons for DROY, Chris Jones, Chase Young, and Fred Warner for DPOY, and Jameis Winston for Comeback Player of the Year.

Derrick Henry, Andy Dalton, and Calvin Ridley in the MVP market, and Rashod Bateman, Sam Ehlinger, and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the Rookie of the Year market.

Westgate Superbook
We lose big on Matthew Stafford and Ryan Tannehill in the MVP pool. We have big liabilities on Bill Belichick and Andy Reid in the Coach of the Year pool. Someone thinks the old guys still have it.

What are the biggest price adjustments in Futures markets that you’ve had to make?

We’ve moved the Bucs from +1200 to +700 to win the Super Bowl.

It’s all about the Packers. The Aaron Rodgers uncertainty threw their division into turmoil, and to a lesser extent the conference. With Rodgers and Adams confirmed back now, the Packers are runaway favorites in the NFC North after briefly being dogs to Minnesota when the buzz was that Rodgers was retiring.

FanDuel Sportsbook
The NFC North and other Green Bay-related markets looked very different at times depending on the latest updates regarding Rodgers’ status. Likewise, Tennessee has moved clear of Indy despite starting at an equivalent price due to Wentz and Nelson’s status and acquiring Julio Jones. Jacksonville has also been brought in a few rolls.

Mac Jones for Rookie of the Year from +1800 to +350.

Westgate Superbook
The Patriots have gone from 60/1 to 20/1 in the SB pool and the Bucs have gone from 6/1 to 2/1 in the NFC pool. Both have moved off a huge volume of bets.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) celebrate after beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.

CREDIT – Mark J. Rebilas (USA Today)

What’s the public’s favorite Week 1 bet so far?

I’ve mentioned the Bucs a lot so far and have to do so again. The Buccaneers to cover against Cowboys has been the public’s favorite–TB has moved from -6.5 to -7.

The Buccaneers against the spread.

FanDuel Sportsbook
The Saints are our biggest liability on the money line against the Packers. The Seahawks are the biggest liability on the spread.

Teasing any of the 7-point favorites–the 49ers and Buccaneers.

Westgate Superbook
The Bucs. By far, the Bucs. We have five times as many tickets on the Bucs as we do any other team in Week 1. The 49ers are the second-most popular.

What is the biggest NFL bet you’ve taken so far?

We took a $25,000 bet to win $200,000 on the Bucs at +800 in March, and have also had a $30,000 bet to win $210,000 on them at +700 in July.

Lots of big bets on Stafford, but there is one at 18/1 to win $246K. Also, a bet on Jalen Hurts MVP at 75/1 to win $577K.

FanDuel Sportsbook
I know of a $10k bet on the Bucs for the Super Bowl at +800, but there may well be others bigger than that.

We’d prefer not to discuss this.

Westgate Superbook
One guy has $55,000 on the Bills -6.5 vs. the Steelers in Week 1. He made that bet in July. People are always anxious to bet on football.

Check out our betting analyst Jared Smith’s assessment of how sportsbooks have adjusted to the new 17-game NFL season

Pickswise is the home of NFL Picks. Check out our latest playoff picks and round-by-round analysis as well as our free Super Bowl predictions.

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